This week Seattle's art community mourned the loss of Rick Klu, a prolific painter and muralist who became a fixture in Seattle in the 1990s.
Kirsten Anderson, owner of Roq La Rue, remembered Klu as the third-ever artist to show at her art gallery, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. "He was [a] strong presence at the gallery in the older days, designing our T-shirts and rebuilding our ceiling by himself when it caved in after an upstairs tenant nodded off in a running bath," she wrote on Instagram.
You've likely seen Klu's work, even if you didn't know it. He painted the huge swampy mural that spanned rooms and hallways—and was home to Derek Erdman's alligators—throughout the old Crocodile space. He also painted the cityscape mural next to the stage inside Cafe Racer's newer Capitol Hill digs, the cool underwater-scene in the bathroom at Angry Beaver, as well as the exterior murals at Uncle Ike's, Biscuit Bitch in White Center, and Vera's Pizza in Ballard.
Back in the day, he designed show flyers for some of the city's coolest rock bands, hung out with members of Alice in Chains and Gruntruck, and honed his craft while doodling on coasters at Mecca Cafe. On his website, Klu wrote about how music, skateboarding, and art all came together while living in Seattle.
More recently, Klu collaborated with photographer Charles Peterson. Klu painted over large prints of some of Peterson's iconic photos for a show at Vermillion in July, bringing a new vibrancy to the work.
View this post on Instagram
Several other artists, musicians, and friends have shared their memories of Klu, including King Khan, Robert Hardgrave, the folks at Jupiter Bar (where he would sometimes do live painting), and Siolo Thompson.
Friends are also putting together a public service later this fall, and they will share more information soon. For now, if you'd like to help Klu's family financially, his brother started a GoFundMe so that he and their parents can travel to Seattle to collect his remains. More information here.